A Proud Military Legacy Documented Back to 1665.

On this Veterans Day, I’m considering the historical military legacy bridge by my own military service and that of my Revolutionary War ancestor.

One of my proudest moments, after having served my country, was finding out that one of my documented French ancestors named Mathieu Devaux dit Platillo  served in the local New Orleans militia under the command of the Spanish Colonial Governor of Louisiana Bernardo de Galvez during Louisiana’s participation in The American Revolution (1778-1783). See part of this ancestor’s story titled the Galvez Papers

You can also read about how my research, discovery, journey, and results were documented in my memoir titled Got Proof! My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation

See here those whom I descend, who also served at various times of War.

My Father Albert A. Henderson, Corporal, U.S. Army

 

My Paternal Grandfather, Nolden Henderson, U.S. Army, WW I

 

My maternal 2nd Great Grandfather Francois Legaux, Jr. had a brother named Florian Legaux  see below record  as a Civil War Soldier (1860-1865)  note side in which he served.

Although, Florian Legaux, is not part of my direct line of descent, though I thought it was a significant ancestral military service discovery in learning, he served as a member of the 30th Regiment Louisiana Infantry (Sumter Regiment), Company G. In the Confederate forces.  I’ll have to do some further research later.

 

My maternal 3rd Great Grand Father, Louis Innocent Mathieu, (Dec 16, 1814 – 25 Mar 1815) Private, First Battallion, Free Men of Color, under the command of General Andrew Jackson at the Battle Of New Orleans, Jan 8, 1815.

See record and blog posting  below for more about Innocent

See here blog posting: Yes, We Were Thee at the Battle Of New Orleans, Jan 8, 1815.

 

My Matrrnal 4th Great Grandfather, Mathieu Devaux dit Platillo, 3rd Company Artillary, New Orleans Militia- (1778-1783). Below is copy of Militia List with name Mathieu Platillo.

Documented Patriot of the American Revolution. See more above in the Galvez Papers. 

My Maternal 9th Great Grandfather, Francois Trottain dit St Surin is currently the oldest documented Ancestor whose served was  discovered as

a member of the first expedition of Royal Troops (Carignan-Salieres) Regiment to arrive in French Canada in 1665.

RootsTech 2018: Successful Outcomes

Last month, I penned a post titled, What Goes Around Comes Around – RootsTech 2018. In it, I shared some of Anita’s and my experiences at RootsTech 2017, and also what I hoped to see and do at this year’s conference.

Now that we’re back, I must say, our mission was accomplished and we both experienced a very successful conference. 

I presented my lecture, Decoding Manumission Papers to Find Family Connections. I was pleased to hear from several attendees about their own experiences uncovering freedom papers in their ancestral research. Even more inspiring was to hear them share that my talk gave them additional insight into exploring and analyzing such documents and allowing them to continue their research. 

I was also encouraged to see how many wanted to learn more about the often hidden language included in manumission documents, a topic that seems to be  taboo in the genealogy community. My purpose was to engage the audience in such a way that those in attendance could see themselves from two perspectives — that of the enslaved person being granted freedom, and from the person granting freedom to another.

Following the lecture, Anita, who was one of several RootsTech Ambassadors and Media interviewers, interviewed me about my session. Can I say that it was kind of strange to be interviewed by my own wife, but it was fun.

One of two individuals I looked forward to seeing at RootsTech was author and genealogist, Tony Burroughs. I met Tony some 20 years ago, and years later when we reconnected, asked if he would write the foreword to my book 

Unfortunately, one of Tony’s two lectures was scheduled at the same time as mine, so he was unable. The disappointing part is that I had consulted with Tony years ago about the very case study I presented in my lecture, and hoped he would be able to attend to learn about my findings. Nevertheless, we a great time catching up and discussing many of the changes and opportunities in the genealogy realm. 

Anita, wearing her “Oprah” hat, also conducted an interview with Tony. Be sure to check it out because yours truly makes an appearance. 

And finally, after many years of waiting, I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. In my book, I share the story of how I almost met him at a conference in 2009, and what a disappointment it was to miss him. But I suppose the wait was worth it because at RootsTech, I had the chance to share with him part of my personal ancestral research discovery journey, and to also thank him for the personal letter he sent me in support of application for membership in the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution.  

It was because of his research, documentation, and presentation of his finding a Revolutionary War ancestor named John Redman, that I was inspired to pursue my own ancestral research. That, of course, led to me discovering a Revolutionary War ancestor named Mathieu Devaux dit Platillo. Platillo, my 4th generation great-grandfather, served under the command of the Spanish Colonial Governor and General Bernardo de Galvez, and was also instrumental in helping to secure the freedom of my 4th generation great-grandmother named  Agnes Mathieu.  

Not surprisingly, Anita was able to ask Gates a question during a RootsTech press conference following his keynotes address on the final day of conference

There were several other media opportunities where both Anita and I were interviewed and shared our individual perspectives on attending RootaTech. All in all, this year’s RootsTech was a success. Both Anita and I were glad to have had the opportunity to attend and participate as a presenter and an Ambassador. We both wish to congratulate both RootsTech staff and the many volunteers who made this year’s conference a success. 

Here are a few pictures from this year’s RootsTech 2018:
 

Freedmen Bureau Labor Contract may provide clues to previous Slave Owner

Labor contract John C. Adamson

John C. Adamson Labor contract dated 13 Jun 1865 between the following named freed person; Easter, Fannie, Hanna Peter, Sylvia, and Charley.
Source: “United States, Freedmen’s Bureau Labor Contracts, Indenture and Apprenticeship Records, 1865-1872,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q2W3-6XC8 : accessed 11 September 2016), John C. Adamson 13 Jun 1865; citing Employment, Montgomery, Alabama, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1900, Records of the field offices for the state of Alabama, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 25; FHL microfilm 2,424,743.

Transcription of above text in question lower left corner of a Labor contact for John C. Adamson and a number of named freed persons:

State of Alabama, Tallapoosa County known all new by these present that I John C. Adamson of the state and county have entered this day into an agreement with the following named freed persons to wit:  Easter a women about sixty years of age, Fannie a woman about thirty years of age and her six children under 10 years old and Hanna a woman about 20 years and her child 12 months old and Peter a boy sixteen years of age and Sylvia a girl about eight years of ago and Charley  a boy 9 years old which persons, I agree to furnish with clothing and feed for there labor, I also agree to furnish them with wood and fuel and pay their Doctor bill and other expenses which freed persons do agree to remain with me until the 25th day of December after which time if not further agree upon said persons will be at liberty to go where they think proper signed in the presence of us this June the 13th 1865. Easter X her mark, Fannie X her mark, Hanna X her mark, Peter X his mark.                                                                                                              John C. Adamson

G. B. Adamson

C. T. Welch

 

Recovered Memories, My Ancestral Connection to Spain, New Orleans And the Support for the American Revolution

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the founding of the City of New Orleans in 1718. To commemorate this occasion, the Louisiana State Museum at The Cabildo in New Orleans’ Jackson Square is featuring a remarkable exhibit, titled  RECOVERED MEMORIES – Spain, New Orleans and the Support for the American Revolution. 

Few people, other than specialist historians, are fully aware of the significance of Spain’s role in the American Revolutionary War. Having declared war on Britain in 1779, Spain joined France in launching a series of major military operations on land and sea, not only in Europe but also in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, thus opening a second front against Britain within the framework of an international conflict. 

Even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, the Spanish crown had been providing money, arms, and supplies to the thirteen colonies. Between 1776 – 1778, this support largely took the form of covert shipments from Europe, Havana, and the strategic port of New Orleans.  Learn more here about Bernardo De Galvez, The Forgotten Revolutionary Conquistador Who Saved Louisiana

Spain continued to send supplies and loans to the American Congress until 1783. Perhaps Spain’s single most important contribution was the dispatch of one million livres (French monetary denomination) to the forces of General De Grasse, who commanded the French forces for the Yorktown campaign in September 1781.

I am proud to have documented my ancestral connection to the history of New Orleans, and was pleased to view the exhibit on a recent visit to my native city. An extensive commemorative book has been published to compliment the exhibit. One of the many documents included in the book is referred to as “The Emancipation de Agnes Mathieu” (The Emancipation of Agnes Mathieu). Yes, that’s my Agnes! 

This document, which I discovered in 2003 at the New Orleans Notarial Archives, linked my 4th generation great-grandfather Mathieu Platillo and Bernardo De Galvez in the historical past of Spanish Louisiana and its critical involvement in the American Revolution.  Here is one other interesting modern day historical connection observed in 2016 with yet another signature in a blog posting titled, Freedom for one, Citizenship for the other, Two signatures 235 years apart.

When I set out to discover information about my maternal ancestral line, I dug up deep roots that took me back to both the Spanish and French Colonial periods in Louisiana. This research uncovered an enslaved Afro-French Creole Woman and  her relationship with a French National named Mathieu Platillo aka Mathieu Devaux. 

Platillo served as a captain in the New Orleans Militia under the Command of the Spanish Governor and General Bernardo De Galvez. Because of my research and ancestral documentation, I became the first African American in the state of Georgia in 2010, where I currently reside, inducted into the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution. 

My research into the relationship between a woman of color who gained her freedom in 1779, and a French national who fought in the Revolutionary War under Bernardo de Galvez in Spanish Colonial Louisiana, was the focus of my memoir titled, GOT PROOF, My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation in 2013, and of the 2010 segment of the PBS televised series, History Detectives.

What Goes Around Comes Around – RootsTech 2018

 

RootsTech Convention CenterIn a few days, Anita and I will be returning to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend RootsTech 2018, the largest genealogy conference in the world. Last year was our first time attending this conference, and what an amazing experience we had. Genealogy conferences like this one offer so much to new and seasoned genealogy and family history enthusiasts.

We had the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed by click here: Bernice Bennett, host of Research at the National Archives and Beyond Blogtalk Radio.  We were also interviewed by KSL-TV and part of that interview became part of a documentary titled see here: Gift of Freedmen’s Records Helps African Americans Connect To Their Roots.

This year, I’m returning as one of several genealogy presenters and Anita as a RootsTech 2018 Ambassador. I will be presenting a lecture titled Decoding Freedom Papers to Find Family Connections, on Thursday, Mar 1. Anita will be busy attending various genealogy sessions and, as time permits, interviewing various speakers and special guests during the conference.

We are both looking forward to seeing many of our genealogy buddies and meeting new ones. I also hope to make connections with other genealogy and family history researchers who may be able to assist me with a few of my research projects. What better place to do this than the genealogy research “Mecca,” Salt Lake City, Utah, home of the largest genealogy archive and records depository, located at the LDS Family History Center.

Chance to meet a legend

HLGatesPPL0213[1]One of the featured keynote speakers at RootsTech this year is Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, Professor Gates is best known for his groundbreaking genealogy series, Finding Your Roots, now in its forth season on PBS.

As it turns out, nine years ago I received a letter of support from Dr. Gates after he, a distinguished African American member of the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR), learned of my research and application process for membership into the same male lineage society. At the time, he was one of the first African American members in the society. In his letter to me, he stated that he would be very interested to hear about my lineage and the research that uncovered my patriot ancestor and the women with whom he had children.

In 2009, I completed my own extensive, decades-long research and was accepted into the NSSAR, becoming the first African American member of the Georgia Society, Sons of the American. In 2010, the PBS series History Detectives learned of my research and featured the story of my patriot ancestor and my 4th generation great-grandmother in a  segment titled- see here The Galvez Papers”. All of this inspired me to write and publish my memoir Got Proof! My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation in 2013.

Meeting Dr. Gates, and sharing with him how instrumental he was in leading the way for me to join the NSSAR and other lineage societies, would be an amazing experience for me.

Reconnecting with a mentor

7588669Another person I am looking forward to seeing at RootsTech 2018 is Tony Burroughs, Founder and CEO of the Center for Black Genealogy, and internationally known genealogist who taught genealogy at Chicago State University.

I met Tony nearly 20 years ago in the early years of my genealogy research journey. He was the first African American male I had met who was a professional genealogist who had done extensive research, and was known for several nationally recognized projects. His work inspired me to continually enhance my own genealogy research skills.

Many years later, Tony and I reconnected when he was visiting Atlanta, Georgia for an appearance. Anita and I invited him over for dinner, and during his visit I asked if he would write the foreword to the book I was finishing. Tony graciously agreed. Surprisingly, we haven’t seen each other since then, due to both of our speaking and conference schedules. Fortune would have it that RootsTech 2018 will be the place for us to reconnect.

I look forward to experiencing some memorable moments at Roots Tech 2018. Stay tuned for photos and more blog posts to learn what I discover this year.

In the meantime, here are a few memorable  moments from our RootsTech 2017 experience. Enjoy, and I hope to see you there.

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RootsTech collage

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Lavar Burton photo at RootsTech2017

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See here LeVar Burton response to Anita’s question : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSaGksIMKZM&t=2s

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Anita and I had so much fun last year at RootsTech 2017,  Hope to see you all there this year.   Feel Free to check out a few of my other click here blogpostings

Finding Famous French-Canadian Cousins

Extreme Genes Henderson And Fisher

Me and Scott Fisher, host of Extreme Genes Radio at Rootstech  2017. (Photo credit: Anita R. Henderson)

For many genealogy researchers, we want to connect ourselves to a famous ancestor. It’s no secret. In all my research uncovering my military ancestors and those who have helped settle what would later become thriving cities, I, however, have yet to find a historically notable ancestor, or even connect myself lineally to a contemporary celebrity or dignitary; that is, until now.

As a follow-up to my introduction to Scott Fisher — host of the Extreme Genes podcast — at RootsTech 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah, I was invited to be a guest on his show. What a nice surprise!

In that interview, I spoke about my ancestral research journey that led to my discovery of my fourth-generation great-grandparents — a Frenchman named Mathieu Devaux dit Platillo and an enslaved woman named Agnes. If you follow my Got Proof blog, you know that I published details of that journey in my memoir, Got Proof!

During my interview with Scott, I also shared how my research of other family lines has uncovered six ancestors who served in militia groups under the command of Spanish Colonial Governor General Bernardo de Galvez, each of whom has now been recognized as a Louisiana patriot of the American Revolution. In addition, I’ve uncovered German-Swedish, African, Native American, and French Canadian ancestors, all tied to Louisiana and French Canada. I enjoyed sharing these and other genealogical discoveries with Scott as a guest on his podcast.

Well, a few days after the podcast episode aired, I received an email from a gentlemen in France who had heard the podcast. He asked if I would be interested in learning a bit more research about my French and French Canadian ancestors I spoke about. Wow! Who doesn’t want that, right! I responded that I would appreciate anything he could share, and mostly figured I’d never hear from him again.

Much to my surprise, less than forty-eight hours later, he emailed me a detailed pedigree chart showing my documented ancestral line to one of my known French ancestors, Pierre Etienne. I already knew of Pierre, as I’ve identified him as my ninth great-grandfather.

The new information this listener brought to my attention, however, was an unlikely family connection to a current-day cousin that I was unaware of.

On the pedigree chart that was sent to me, all of the dates and names link from Pierre Etienne to myself and to none other than Justin Trudeau, the current Prime Minister of Canada. What a shock!

French Canadian Cousins without dates

French Canadian cousins discovered after interview on Extreme Genes. Click image to enlarge.

 

My new French research comrade had quickly built a pedigree chart showing Justin Trudeau as my tenth cousin, making his father, the former Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, my ninth cousin, one time removed. Unbelievable!

Of course, I had to make sure my comrade had his research correct. So I compared his notes with mine, made a few slight corrections, added a few photos, and was able to confirm his results. When I emailed my thanks, he extended an invitation to me to attend,  XXIVe Salon et Congrès National de Généalogie a conference in France, which he believes would benefit me and my research. What a kind and thoughtful gesture; one that I will give some serious consideration to.

You never know where help can come from. While I was focused on traveling back in time documenting my ancestors, someone who found my research interesting took it a step further and connected my lines to two modern-day cousins that I was totally unaware of. This is why I love doing interviews about genealogy and sharing my own genealogy research.

 

 

My Descent From French Ancestor Michel Messier dit Saint Michel Certified

Michel Messier dit Saint Michel

Michael Nolden Henderson is confirmed as a descendant of Michel Messier dit Saint Michel who arrived in Montreal Quebec Canada in 1653

Once again, I have come to the end of yet another successful research journey with the completion of documented evidence and submission of an application to have one of my 17th century French ancestors named Michel Messier dit Saint Michel,  an early settler in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, recognized by the Order of the Founders of North America (OFNA) 1492 to 1692.

The OFNA is a lineage society whose purpose is to memorialize the individuals who founded North America through Colonization; including the Caribbean and offshore North Atlantic Islands during the period of 1492 to 1692. Members may descend from Spanish, English, French, Dutch, Scottish, Swedish, German, Danish, and Italian royalty, explorers, settlers, and seamen transporting and supplying these colonists. To learn more click here OFNA.

Michel Messier dit Saint Michel, lieutenant of militia, seigneur, fur trader; was born about 1640 at Saint-Denis-le-Thiboult in the diocese of Rouen, France. He was the son of David Messier and Marguerite Bar; buried 3 Nov. 1725 at Saint-Anne de Varennes. See more about him here:

In a previous blog post titled Family’s Female French Progenitor Discovered, Documented and Claimed,  I submitted an earlier application after discovering and documenting my lineal descent from one of our family’s earliest known female French ancestors named Anne LeMoyne.

As always, it is my sincere hope that each of you on a similar journey continued to be inspired by the many success stories and achievements such as this one.

Check this family connection out. See here Justin and Michael.

236th Anniversary Since Agnes Mathieu Gained Her Freedom

Agnes Manumission Document (Freedom Papers) , Dec 16, 1779

On December 16, 1779, Agnes Mathieu, my 4th generation-great grandmother, with the assistance of her French consort, Mathieu Devaux dit Platillo, was granted her freedom. This portion of the document shown here is part of an 8-page record detailing the necessary action taken to secure freedom from her previous owner. Not until the Spanish Colonial Governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez signed this document was Agnes’ freedom  finally acheived.

I invite you to view if you haven’t already, the PBS program, “History Detectives” segment titled “The Galvez Papers“.  It is my sincere hope that this research, documentation, and amazing story continue to inspire you as you continue your journey of discovering your ancestors’ stories.

My family and I,  as  descendants of Agnes, stand today as living memorials to the memory of her achievements. We mark this day, 16 Dec 2016  as the 236th anniversary of freedom from slavery for Agnes Mathieu.

See a recent interview at “The Writing Well. If you wish to order a signed copy of my book, Got Proof! My Genealogical Journey through the Use of Documentation, please click here .

 

NCSSAR makes History in Harlowe County, North Carolina by Chartering a New SAR Chapter

Patriot Isaac Carter SAR

The North Carolina Society, Sons of the American Revolution (NCSSAR) made history when the male lineage society chartered its newest chapter, the Patriot Isaac Carter Chapter, in Harlowe township, Craven County, North Carolina on Saturday, September 3, 2016.

Harlowe Patriot Marker1

Maria Williams Cole, Member of the National Society Daughter of the American Revolution “Mother of the Patriot Isaac Carter Chapter”. Photo Credit : Debra Newton-Carter

Patriot Isaac Carter is the first SAR Chapter named after an African American patriot who was one of fourteen patriots from the Harlowe communities that served during the American Revolution. Earlier this year, a memorial marker was erected and dedicated to those “forgotten patriots” from Harlowe County at the Havelock-Harlowe Senior Center.  To read more about the Harlowe Patriot (SAR) Historical Memorial Marker Ceremony, see blog post by Debra Newton-Carter titled: double click here: Honoring our Ancestors: Free Black Patriot of the American Revolutionary War 

The four small communities that make up what is now known as the Harlowe area were settled by a group free African-American families who came from Virginia and Maryland well before the American Revolution. This new chapter is dedicated to those fourteen free African-American patriots whose service and contribution was nearly forgotten during the War of Independence. The chapter will serve as a beacon of light on a part of history that was once held in the shadow of the narrative of American Revolutionary war history.

President General SAR

The Honorable J. Michael Tommy, President General National Society Sons of the American Revolution and other distinguished members of the NSSAR and DAR. Photo credit: Mrs. Anita Rochelle Henderson

Many dignitaries were in attendance, including the Honorable J. Michael Tomme, Sr., President General NSSAR, as well as several former NSSAR Presidents General, state officers, and chapter presidents. Representatives from the South Atlantic Region of the NSSAR — which includes North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida — representative of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), community leaders, and a number of descendants of the fourteen African-American Sons of Harlowe were on hand to witness history in the making.

Compatriot Edward Earl Carter

Compatriot Edward Earl Carter, Chartered President of the Isaac Chapter, North Carolina Society, National Society Sons of the American Revolution

In addition, ten new members were inducted into the chapter: Elwood Becton, Marcus Elwood Becton, Napoleon Carter, Dennis Windell Ellis, Beleather, ”Butch” Fisher, III, Max Allen Fisher, Alan Deline Frazier, Sr., Ricky Darnell Frazier, Tyrone Lamar Frazier, and James Christopher Kelly, Jr.

The event culminated with the presentation of several awards, installation of the new officers of the Patriot Issac Carter Chapter of the North Carolina Society, Sons of the American Revolution, and remarks by the newly installed President Edward Earl Carter.  To summarize Compatriot Edward Earl Carter’s remarks: No longer will these fourteen Free African Americans Sons from Harlowe County be known as forgotten Patriots of the American Revolution.

Their descendants, many of whom are now becoming members of the newly chartered Patriot Isaac Carter Chapter in the NCSSAR, stand as living memorials to their ancestors’ service. They also represent their ancestors’ contributions to this nation’s freedom and liberty secured during the War of Independence.

This was truly a proud moment for my wife Anita and me, as history was made in the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution.

Here are a few photos taken during and after the Chartering Ceremony of the Isaac Carter Chapter.

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NSSAR National Color Guard

National Society Sons of the American Revolution, National Color Guard,

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Master of Ceremony, James H. Wood, Past President NCSSAR

Master of Ceremony, James H. Wood, Past President North Carolina Society SAR

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Induction of New Members of the Patriot Issac Carter Chapter NCSSAR

Induction of New Members of the Patriot Issac Carter Chapter NCSSAR

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Installation of New Officers of the Patriot Isaac Carter Chapter NCSSAR

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Installation of Compatriot Edward Earl Carter, Chartered President Isaac Carter Chapter NCSSAR

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Isaac Carter Chapter Charter

Compatriot Edward Earl Carter, Chartered President Isaac Carter Chapter NCSSAR receives Chapter Charter September 3, 2016.

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President General J Michael Tommy and Marie Williams Cole

NSSAR President General J Michael Tommy congratulates Marie Williams Cole as the DAR Mother of the Patriot Isaac Carter Chapter

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Compatriot Mark Anthony, Michael Nolden Henderson, Allen Greenley

(L-R) Compatriots Mark Anthony, Michael Nolden Henderson, Allen Greenley and his wife,Mrs Greenley and Mrs Cillia Tommy.

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PG J M Tommy and Henderson

The Honorable J. Michael Tomme, Sr., President General, National Society Sons of the American Revolution and Compatriot Michael Nolden Henderson, LCDR USN Ret, Past President Button Gwinnett Chapter Georgia Society SAR

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Mrs Anita Rochelle Henderson and The Honorable J. Michael Tomme, Sr. President General, National Society Sons of the American Revolution

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African American Descendants of ARW Ancestors

African American members of the National Society Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution

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Henderson And Higgins

Compatriot Michael Nolden Henderson Past President, Button Gwinnett Chapter, Georgia Society SAR and Compatriot Guy Higgins, Registrar for The Isaac Carter Chapter, North Carolina Society SAR.

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New members and Descendants of Harlowe Patriots

New members and Descendants of Harlowe Patriots

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(L-R)New Inductee, His Mother and Michael Henderson

(L-R)New Inductee, His Mother and Michael Henderson

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African American members of the DAR,  Evelyn McDowell, Karen Sutton and Marie Williams Cole with a commissioned Portrait of the Harlowe Patriots of the American Revolution.

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Michael Nolden Henderson, LCDR. USN Ret. Past President Button Gwinnett Chapter Georgia Society SARjpg

Compatriot Michael Nolden Henderson, LCDR USN Ret, Past President Button Gwinnett Chapter Georgia SAR standing next to a commissioned Portrait of the Harlowe Patriots of the American Revolution.

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Compatriot Henderson and Carter

(L-R) Compatriot Michael Nolden Henderson, LCDR USN Ret, Past President Button Gwinnett Chapter Georgia Society SAR and Compatriot Edward Earl Carter, Chartered President, The Patriot Isaac CARTER Chapter, North Carolina Society SAR.

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Homer Adolphe Plessy’s Ancestral Connection to the American Revolution, A legacy in the Struggle for Freedom and Civil Rights

Homer Plessy ancestral connection ARW1

My Ancestral link to Spanish Colonial Slavery and Louisiana’s Involvement in Support of the Patriot Cause for Freedom and Independence was through my maternal Grandmother Nellie Mathieu. It was discovered that another Cousin named Homer Adolphe Plessy shares the same connection as a Descendant of A Patriot of the American Revolution and former enslaved female name Agnes.  (double click picture to see chart).

I wrote a blog post on December 16, 2014 titled, Freedom for One, Citizenship for the Other, Two Signatures 235 Years Apart.  In it, I share how a series of events in my family’s Louisiana colonial past brought three individuals — an enslaved woman of color named Agnes, a white French national named Mathieu Devaux dit Platillo, and the Spanish colonial Governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez — together in the cause of freedom and independence. Both Devaux and Galvez have been recognized as patriots of the American Revolution for their contributions as soldiers in the cause for America’s freedom from Great Britain. You can see the story played out in a segment of the PBS programs History Detectives titled see here the Galvez Papers.

Their lives and historic actions have forever changed my awareness about knowing and claiming my family’s history. With the stroke of two penned signatures, history was made: Freedom was granted to Agnes on December 16, 1779 by  Bernardo de Galvez, and 235 years later, on December 16, 2014, citizenship was granted (posthumously) to Galvez himself by President Barack Obama, an amazing connection of which my family and I can forever be proud.

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Louisiana Historical Marker sponsored by Crescent City Peace Alliance. Double click link :http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM67QX_Plessy_v_Ferguson

As we approach the 120th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Plessy v. Ferguson, a concerted effort is being waged to acknowledge his long overdue impact on the American Civil Rights Movement. In 1892, Homer Plessy, a fair-skinned, mixed-race man of color, was arrested in New Orleans, LA for taking a seat in a train car designated for white passengers only, despite the fact that he had paid for a first-class ticket. How interesting that a man of mixed race would be treated in such a way.

What would have happened if the train conductor and the whites who opposed him had known then that Plessy is the descendant of Agnes (mentioned above), a formerly enslaved Afro-Creole woman who fought in court and gained her Freedom, and Mathieu Devaux, a Frenchman and patriot of the American Revolution who fought for America’s freedom well before the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and statehood in 1812? Would he still have been denied his full rights and privileges as an American citizen under the constitution of the United States?

Plessy’s case was taken to the local courts and later to the Supreme Court, where it was upheld, thereby ushering in the era known as Jim Crow in America. However as was stated by those who took this case all the way to the supreme court said:

“We, as freemen, still believe that we were right and our cause is sacred.”  ~ Statement of the Comité des Citoyens 1896’

Long before the modern Civil Rights Era, Plessy and the Citizens Committee, with whom he planned the event, made history. Yet because the Supreme Court case was not decided in his favor, Plessy has since stood as a scar in the struggle for civil rights for all people in America. Homer A. Plessy has never been officially acknowledged for his sacrifice on the altar of freedom. Those who know the truth of Plessy’s actions, look upon him as a figure of immense historical importance. The time is now for all of us to acknowledge his rightful place in the history of American Civil Rights.

Be a part of removing the burdensome legacy of Jim Crow history from Plessy’s name. The Presidential Medal of Freedom will give him the recognition that he and his fellow civil rights activists so richly deserve.

A new petition created on We the People website asks for your support in helping to recognize Homer Plessy with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his significant role in American civil rights history.

I am proud to have signed this petition. Will you add your name to mine? If this petition gets 100,000 signatures by May 15, 2016, the White House will review it and respond!

We the People allows anyone to create and sign petitions asking the Obama Administration to take action on a range of issues. If a petition gets enough support, the Obama Administration will issue an official response.

You can view and sign the petition here, which asks the Obama Administration to:

Award Homer Plessy the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his significant role in the American Civil Rights Struggle.

Presidential Medal of Freedom

The Presidential Medal of Freedom

Please support his nomination by signing this petition before May 15, 2016.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/nominate-homer-plessy-recipient-medal-freedom-120-anniversary-case-may-18-2016

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” ~ Martin Luther King

Your help in this effort is deeply appreciated. See here to learn more about the Plessy v Ferguson case.